Google slapped with record fine

Stat of the day: $22.5m - the amount Google has been fined for monitoring web surfers using Apple's Safari browser.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
Google has had its knuckles rapped by the US Federal Trade Commission. The Internet search giant surreptitiously monitored web surfers using Apple’s Safari browser with tracking cookies. Google agreed to pay $22.5m (£14.4m) to the US Federal Trade Commission after being found out, although didn’t have to admit wrongdoing.

The government agency launched its inquiry after a Stanford University researcher noticed Google was exploiting a loophole that allowed its cookies to be installed via adverts on popular websites. This meant the company could track people's web-use habits even if they hadn’t given Google permission to do so.

Google’s penalty is for misrepresenting what it was doing – and not admitting wrongdoing as such. But considering Google takes in $12.2bn in revenue a quarter, the $22.5m fine is barely even a tap on the wrist.

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